Prominent gay congressman Barney Frank spoke about issues ranging from same-sex marriage to the war in Iraq to more than 60 students at Marvin Center.
Frank, who was voted funniest congressman in a recent Washingtonian magazine poll, showed his sense of humor while cracking jokes on almost every subject he discussed. Allied in Pride and College Democrats sponsored the event with Frank (D-Mass.), who has been serving in Congress since 1981.
“The only people affected by same-sex marriage in Massachusetts are those who live next door to a gay couple and had to buy them a wedding present,” said Frank, who was one of the first openly gay members in the House of Representatives.
The reason same-sex marriage was voted down in so many states is that the public is always afraid of how anti-discrimination will affect them, Frank said.
Frank said the House vote that set a date for the pullout of troops from Iraq was much needed.
“Generally members of Congress like to bitch and moan about a war, but don’t want to do anything about it,” Frank said.
Frank described his view on the War on Terror as “two-fold.”
“One: get out of Iraq. Two: get (farther) into Afghanistan,” Frank said.
In 2002, the war in Afghanistan carried strong public support, Frank said, but that support waned after going into Iraq. He also said that placing troops in Iraq took troops from Afghanistan and made the mission there less successful.
When looking at the 2008 election, Frank commented that no candidate, regardless of party, would significantly benefit the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.
“There is an eight-way tie for second and no one in first,” Frank said.
The congressman also spent time in his speech outlining a plan for how the federal government should help college students pay for school.
“You will see further action to decrease loan interest,” Frank said, adding that he hopes to increase the Pell Grant in the future and provide more loan forgiveness programs.
Both College Democrats and Allied in Pride were pleased with the turnout and the lively discussion.
“As always, the questions students asked Mr. Frank were tough but insightful. The congressman answered them all with poise and engaged our students in thoughtful and lively discussion,” said Michael Weil, communications director of the College Democrats.